Lesson 1 Part 1 of 2 (series: Lessons on Colossians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

1/18/18

Tom Lowe

Lesson 1 Salutation (Colossians 1:1-2)


Scripture: Colossians 1:1-2 (NIV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters{1] in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father{2].

Footnotes:
[1} The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in 4:15.
2} Some manuscripts read “Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”


Introduction:

Paul had never actually been to Colossae, but he had heard of their faith (1:4, 9){IA.1
and so he has to begin by making clear what right he has to send a letter to the Colossians. He does that in one word; he is an apostle. The word apostle literally means “one who is sent out.” Paul’s right to speak is that he has been sent out by God to be His ambassador to the Gentiles. Moreover, he is an apostle by the “will of God.” That office is not something which he has earned or achieved; it is something which has been given him by God. “You did not choose me,” said Jesus, “but I chose you” (John 15:16). Here, right at the outset of the letter is the whole doctrine of grace. “A MAN IS NOT WHAT HE HAS MADE HIMSELF, BUT WHAT GOD HAS MADE HIM.”

The four Prison Epistles of Paul which include the Epistle to the Colossians have been called the anatomy of the Church because their subjects cover all aspects of the Christian faith. In Colossians, our attention is directed to the head of the body who is Christ. The body, the church, is secondary. Instead, Christ is the theme, and Christian living is centered in Him.

IA.1} “Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, . . . For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:4, 9).


Lesson 1

1 PAUL, AN APOSTLE OF CHRIST JESUS BY THE WILL OF GOD, AND TIMOTHY OUR BROTHER,

“PAUL, AN APOSTLE OF CHRIST JESUS BY THE WILL OF GOD”
He begins the letter by giving a description of the office and character of the person from whom the salutation emanates. He says that he is first and foremost an apostle of Christ Jesus; an exalted and important office. An apostle is one sent. It involved incredible thought, overburdening care, incessant toil, unparalleled suffering. Paul was commissioned to declare the grandest truths―truths destined to enlighten and lift up mankind.

“BY THE WILL OF GOD”
Paul traces his apostleship to the “will of God.” The “will of God” is the great originating and dynamic force in the universe. That Will raised Paul to the apostleship, and endowed him with all essential qualifications.

“AND TIMOTHY OUR BROTHER”
Timothy was undoubtedly Paul’s convert, because Paul referred to him lovingly as “son,” “my own son,” “my beloved son,” “my dearly beloved son” (1 Timothy 1:18; 1:2; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Timothy 1:2).

Young Timothy was appreciated by all the brethren{A1.
. He enjoyed an early religious education which was fundamental and sound. He learned the truth from his mother and his grandmother, as well as at the feet of the Apostle Paul. Paul selected him to be his fellow traveler and co-laborer, and gave this testimony concerning him: “He worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do” (1 Corinthians 16:10). And here he recognizes him but on the more equal footing of a “brother,” thus he clearly distinguishes between himself and Timothy, who

is a brother and fellow labor, but not an apostle. Christianity is a brotherhood. The equality of Christian brotherhood is based on their common faith and spiritual foundations.

There was a very definite reason why Paul associates Timothy with the Epistle to the Colossians. Timothy was a native of the area where the Colossian church was located (Acts 16:1-30). He had been with Paul when the Apostle preached the Gospel there, and no doubt was well-known to the Colossian people (Acts 16:6). It is true, however, from the manner in which Paul mentions him, that he did not regard him as a fellow apostle, but rather as a co-worker and his son in the ministry. On another occasion, Paul declared that both Timothy and himself preached the same identical Gospel of the Son of God—pure grace―“ For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.””(2 Corinthians 1:19).


“PAUL . . . AND TIMOTHY.”
The greatest closeness existed between the two, notwithstanding the disparity in rank and abilities. There were qualities in Timothy that elicited the admiration and love of the great apostle. They were constant companions in travel; and Timothy was often a source of comfort to Paul during those times he was in custody.

If Philemon, who was a Colossian Christian, had met Paul at Ephesus, he probably had seen Timothy too, and would no doubt tell the Church how the apostle valued him― “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you” (Ephesian 2:19).


[A1.1} “Brethren” (“God’s holy people”) which means “fellow Christians,” emphasizes the fact that they all belong together as members in God’s great family, the Church.

2 TO GOD’S HOLY PEOPLE IN COLOSSAE, THE FAITHFUL BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST: GRACE AND PEACE TO YOU FROM GOD OUR FATHER.

The literal translation reads, “To those in Colossae who are saints and believing brethren in Christ: . . .” By “saints” we usually mean people who have, so to speak, achieved the ultimate in the spiritual life; but in the New Testament, the primary stress is on their dedication to God rather than on any shining excellence of character. All born again, blood-washed believers are saints. When we become partakers of salvation in Christ Jesus, we are that split second transformed from sinner to saint. There is no gradual attaining of sainthood. Good works do not make saints of us, and no man (or group of men) has any right to promote a person to sainthood after that person is dead!

“TO GOD’S HOLY PEOPLE IN COLOSSAE, THE FAITHFUL BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST:”
He is not talking about two groups of people. “God’s holy people and the “faithful brothers and sisters in Christ” are the same. Faithful brethren are believing brethren, and they are saints. We are not saints because of what we do. We are saints by our position.

God’s “Holy People” here refers to His “saints”; “saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are in Colossae.” This word, “saints” implies union with God and a personal participation in His righteousness. Righteousness is the root of the saintly life. Faith in Christ is the point and means of connection.

“THE FAITHFUL BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST.”
This phrase implies agreement with each other. They embraced a common faith, and held steadfastly together amid the agitations of false teachers and the defections of the wavering. Christianity blends the strangest elements. It is a foe to all national hostility and prejudices. Paul, a Jew, Timothy, a Grecian, and the Colossians, a mixture of several races, are here united in a holy and faithful brotherhood.

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